Archive for July 5, 2009

The Quick Change Artist

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2009 by dcairns

Where can you see Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks and Harold Lloyd in the same movie? And throw in Roscoe Arbuckle, Jackie Coogan and Rudolph Valentino as well.

CHARACTER STUDIES is basically a home movie by Carter de Haven, rich bloke and future John Huston producer. Aa lot of care has gone into it, and it has a very nice central conceit, which unfortunately means that none of the actors interact or even share screen time. If he’d just filmed everybody hitting each other with sausages he’d have had a terrible pointless film, instead of this witty and elegant one, but we’d have gotten to see Fatty Arbuckle smacking Valentino with a salami. Sometimes you can overthink things.

A thousand thanks to Steven McNicoll for alerting me to this one.


Intertitle of the Week: Melonfarmer!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on July 5, 2009 by dcairns


“Who’s this walking melon?”

The line is from William Wyler’s THE SHAKEDOWN, subject of my most recent edition of The Forgotten. My copy, from Italian TV, has these simple and elegant Italian intertitles, and while Shadowplayer Christoph Michel believes that replacing intertitles is as bad as dubbing, I sort of appreciated the clue as to this copy’s provenance. Of course the Italians would like this movie, which is a sentimental fable about a young orphan thief redeemed by the love of a boxer, and the crooked fighter redeemed by his love of the kid — and at the same time, a bit of a celebration of crookedness, a sort of precursor to Bogdanovich’s PAPER MOON.


Movie also has these great intertitles for act breaks, and this one at the end. More movies should contain their own poster art.